The schoolyard was large and mostly made of course sand. There was cracked asphalt on one end and a row of giant cottonwood trees on the other.
It was during the time when I was reading Nancy Drew and Choose Your Own Adventure stories. The other kids and I had never heard of roleplaying, but I essentially became the game master in a mystery, leading us in finding secret passages and locked trunks, clues to a mystery we never solved because the bell always rang.
It was something I didn’t think much about until one day, being a highly sensitive introvert, I needed time alone to refocus. The other kids were dismayed. I assured them that I wasn’t mad at anyone and tried to explain that I needed to be alone that recess. I told them how they could play the game themselves. They argued that I thought of the most imaginative ideas, that they couldn’t think of those things by themselves. I knew they were capable of it, but they wanted a guide to lead them in an adventure.
When I’m writing I try to remember this experience. I’m learning my reader in a game. Together we’re going on an adventure. Games mean fun. When you’re done, especially with a novel, I want you to say, “That was a game.”